We took a look at IONOS’ 1&1 MyWebsite service, but they also offer a dedicated e-commerce website builder feature, which we’ll look at in this review.
Packages and rates
Unfortunately, just like 1&1 MyWebsite, IONOS doesn’t offer a free trial, so you have to commit to a plan if you want to explore the service’s features. There is one condition, however: you can try one month for free when you sign up, but each subsequent month will cost more than if you had opted for the traditional option without a free month.
The cheapest option is the Startup plan, $1 per month for the first year ($12 thereafter) and lets you sell up to 500 physical products. You get an SSL certificate and email, access to pre-made layouts, and various payment options. It’s a great inexpensive way to get started – for the first year at least.
More is the most popular option and costs $5 per month for the first six months ($20 thereafter). Your product allocation is up to 5,000, and the models offered can be more extensively customized. You also have the option to sell and track your purchases through Google.
So there is Pro ($25 per month for the first six months and $35 thereafter). Not only can you sell up to 10,000 products, digital downloads are finally available. Other features include the ability to manage your store through an app on your phone and support for multiple languages.
Finally, there is Expert ($35 per month for the first six months and $50 beyond). With it, you have no limit to the number of physical and digital products you can sell. You can link your store and sell through Amazon and eBay, and take advantage of other features like volume discounts and customer group pricing.
Even though all plans are advertised as a monthly expense, you must commit a full year up front. There is, however, a 30-day money-back guarantee if you are unhappy with the service.
After purchasing the plan you want, it’s time to set up your website. There are several templates to choose from, all divided into categories, with a handy search box at the top if you need it. All templates are fully responsive, meaning they look great regardless of what screen they are viewed on, be it desktop, tablet or phone .
The top of the page contains general function tools such as switching between devices (desktop, table or mobile), undo and redo buttons, preview and publish option. The sidebar on the left contains elements that you can add to your pages, such as widgets, your store, a blog, etc.
It’s all remarkably similar to other website services we’ve come across, with similar functionality, similar tools, similar way of doing things. Suffice it to say, you have enough customization options to turn a template into a unique experience, and the process is intuitive enough that if you have experience with these services, you’ll have no problem find you there.
So let’s look at the reason we’re here: the e-commerce side of things.
Setting up a store
Click on the Ecommerce menu in the left sidebar to access your new online emporium. Adding items is easy, and since this service can support an unlimited number of items (depending on the plan), it’s reassuring to know that you can import everything via a CSV, XCart, or LiteCommerce file. Even better, not only can you see what information is in each column, but you also have the means to rearrange those columns to match the data you’re about to import.
If you only need to add a handful of items, you can also choose to do it manually, one at a time, by clicking the “Add New Product” button.
Fill in all relevant fields for your product, such as images, title, description, price, etc. If you sell items of a different color or size (like t-shirts for example), you can add variants (but only if you have the right plan: Pro or higher).
When setting up your store, you have the option to connect it to your social media accounts (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest), configure various preferences, such as currency, weight, and size. There are a few nice options, like hiding out-of-stock items (this option is off by default), enabling or disabling legal pages on some, all, or none of your pages, and various ways to track your visitors via social media. and google the ads.
To incentivize your customers, you will probably make full use of the Discount section, where you can specify which items are discounted, the level of said discount and whether or not an expiration date is attached to it.
Shipping options are pretty comprehensive, ranging from free to flat-rate, to custom pricing based on size, weight, and more. When it comes to payment, various services are available such as Stripe, Square, PayPal, and even cash.
IONOS also offers a selection of apps, many of which are free, to add functionality to your store. Options include additional payment gateways such as Authipay and Lemon Way Payments, to a label editor, to the inclusion of chat buttons via WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger (among others), to Delivery Trackers.
These are not essential, but could add an extra touch for you and your customers.
The IONOS e-commerce website builder service offers many options to help you create an online store. The tools available to build and customize your site won’t confuse anyone who has used similar services in the past, and when it comes to e-commerce, the features are comprehensive, clearly displayed, and easy to use. We particularly liked the detailed way you can import your stock inventory, which is better than what we’ve seen other companies do, and the options available for discounts, payments, and shipping should satisfy the most customers.
The only downside really is the lack of a clear and obvious free trial, and monthly fees that increase dramatically after 6 or 12 months (depending on your plan).